State corrections assists Comanche County with COVID-19 outbreak

Published: 05/20/2020, 10:05 PM
Edited: 03/11/2021, 10:22 AM
(LAWTON, Okla.) After an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Comanche County Detention Center in Lawton, county officials contacted Secretary of Public Safety Chip Keating, requesting the state’s help. Nearly a dozen ODOC security staff reported to the jail Sunday to help stabilize the facility and ramp up sanitization efforts after more than 100 inmates and 16 staff tested positive. ODOC remains on-site helping advise staff on correctional best practices during the pandemic. The Comanche County Facilities Authority oversees the jail’s operations. The chair, Johnny Owens, says the jail was not ready for a COVID-19 outbreak, “We were not equipped to deal with this pandemic. We reached out to the state for help and have received an incredible response from people who jumped right in, working alongside jail administrators and employees to turn this around.” The facilities authority met Wednesday to discuss an agreement with ODOC to prevent further spread by housing COVID-19 negative inmates at a state prison immediately. ODOC transport vans arrived at the county jail to transport inmates with two consecutive negative tests. These inmates will remain in the legal custody of the Comanche County Detention Center while ODOC provides male inmates housing, board, and routine medical care at North Fork Correctional Center in Sayre. These county jail inmates will be housed in a separate unit from state prisoners. ODOC will house female county jail inmates at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud. ODOC will seek reimbursement from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. “Our Pandemic Planning Guide accounted for the potential need to quarantine a large number of inmates,” ODOC Director Scott Crow said. “Due to the agency’s success in preventing any outbreaks, we are able to share resources with our county partners.” Two prison inmates have tested positive for the virus. Comanche County jail inmates testing positive will remain quarantined in the jail. The current agreement lasts through June 10. As early as March 13, ODOC suspended all visitation and volunteer access to facilities. Within a week of the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 15, the agency ceased inmate transfers from county jails, instituted a 14-day quarantine for any inmate exhibiting symptoms, and began screening all staff as they reported for duty.


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